No Grandmother Stories, Please.

file0001133443192 I call it The Big Disconnect. The prestigious “Lives” essay spot in the back of the New York Times Magazine not long ago included in its writers’ guidelines this helpful hint: “No grandmother stories, please.” Which would lead you to think that, because so many people considered their grandmothers such a big influence, the world was already inundated with grandmother tales.

I am still looking. I do hear the stories, lots of them, from my cohort — the new grandparents, the seasoned ones, the breathlessly waiting and hoping. And we know how much this little affair can mean over time. If we are lucky, our kids had significant relationships with their own grandparents, or we did with ours, long gone.

So where do we see this reflected around us? I count just one website devoted to grandparents, and a few gushy blogs. Even the denture commercials show us “glam” old folks mostly gardening and going out to dinner. Or, if we are very fortunate, taking in the moon from the deck of a cruise ship.

But our hearts tell a different story. We lucky ones know that the grandparent-child bond can be bone deep, and forever long .

Why do we see so little of it?

Just asking. If you have any thoughts on this, do send them my way.


This Just In…..(although eons in the making)

origin_434106968It’s called The Grandmother Hypothesis, and it was first posited more than half a century ago. The idea is that we post-menopausal dames might have played a really crucial role in the development of the species. Long ago, when our ancestors were tending their fires and sweeping out their caves, proto-human survival was very touch and go.

Who better to help the little ones than their dear doting grandmothers? We who were no longer burdened by pregnancy and nursing could keep those toddlers from wandering away from camp, or falling into the fire. We could gather more nuts and berries, and make sure the small cave kids ate their fill.

This allowed more of us to survive, and more portions of our brains to develop. Also, this model of having several small children and at least a couple of caretakers promoted a model of “shared intentionality.” Anthropologists argue that this has helped humans to work together to achieve common goals.

More recent research on hunter-gatherer tribes has found that “modern” grandmas still play the same role — hunting tubers and feeding them to the young.

Go grannies! We knew it all along.